Activists and consumers have urged the government to suspend the use of biometric authentication at PDS shops. They fear that this could add to the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
Pattabiram resident K.T. Rajan said that in the shop where he buys essentials, no tokens were issued. “There were long queues on both days when we went to the shop because tokens were not issued. We usually buy the commodities for my son’s family… Now with biometric authentication, he has to come to the shop leaving his work,” he said.
T. Rangarajan, a consumer, said the internet connection was slow at most shops and queues were common. “I am afraid I can contract the novel coronavirus infection if I visit the shop. The shopkeeper holds the hand of the consumer and presses it on the biometric reader,” he said.
V. Rama Rao of the People’s Awareness Association said the government’s aim of creating a permanent record for the caretaker or helper was absurd. “Even children shift to other cities and countries for work. Domestic workers and caretakers keep changing. Since it is linked to Aadhaar, what is the need for this biometric system?” he questioned.
Consumer activist T. Sadagopan said Kerala had suspended biometric authentication at fair price shops. “People are asked to try up to three to six fingers. And if it does not work, it takes up to 10 minutes. People crowd shops, they do not follow personal distancing norms. The system is good. But this is not the time to implement it,” he said.
Sources in the Civil Supplies Department said the initial glitches had been set right, and officials were monitoring the implementation of safety norms.